Newsletter 01 | February 2016

Syrian children in a refugee camp in Erbil, Northern Iraq

Special Edition: The BMZ's response to the refugee crisis

Dear Readers,

"We need to immediately create opportunities for the millions of people who have been displaced by the Syrian crisis. Every euro we invest is also an investment in our future and it has a multiplied effect in the region," noted German Development Minister Gerd Müller in the run-up to the Syria donor conference in London. His expectations were met. On 4 February, conference participants pledged more than nine billion euros for aid interventions in the region.

Müller called for the European Commission to take on a leading role in coordinating the assistance. "I consider it very important that we do not have thousands of separate initiatives but one single strategy for coordinated assistance on the ground," he said.

Read our newsletter to find out more about the donor conference and about Germany's comprehensive efforts to assist refugees, tackle the root causes of displacement and stabilise host regions.

Your BMZ Internet Editors

If people feel that they have a future and some opportunities in the region, they will not embark on the journey to Europe.

Gerd Müller
German Development Minister

Donor conference in London

During the Syria conference in London, German Development Minister Gerd Müller meets with Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Peace Laureate from Pakistan

More than nine billion euros for Syrian refugees

At the donor conference "Supporting Syria and the Region" held in London on 4 February 2016, participants pledged more than nine billion euros for interventions by international aid agencies in response to the refugee crisis in Syria and in the region. For the period up to 2018, Germany pledged a total of 2.3 billion euros. In 2016 alone, Germany will make available 1.2 billion euros for needy people in the region.

Development Minister Gerd Müller applauded the pledge, calling it a "strong signal", but also called on all players to deliver on their promises. "Only about 50 per cent of the commitments made at previous conferences were actually met," the Minister said, noting that this must not happen again.

The increase in international funding is hoped to improve living conditions for people within Syria and in its neighbouring countries, by enabling all refugee children in the region to go to school, improving health care, and giving refugees employment opportunities in Syria's neighbouring countries. In the long term, this is hoped to stabilise the region and give people on the ground a viable future.

One key contribution from Germany is a quick-impact employment programme. Its purpose is to create up to 500,000 jobs for refugees and locals in the region, supporting the construction of schools, hospitals and community centres.

The Syria conference was co-hosted by the UK, Germany, Norway, Kuwait and the United Nations. They had agreed to jointly organise this donor conference in order to address the severe shortage of funding for the UN aid agencies working in Syria and in neighbouring countries.

The conflict in Syria

The Zaatari refugee camp for Syrian refugees in Jordan

BMZ supports programmes in neighbouring countries

The conflict in Syria has sent the region into the biggest humanitarian crisis the world has seen since the United Nations was founded. The German Development Ministry (BMZ) therefore suspended its official development cooperation with Syria in May 2011. Since then, the BMZ has been supporting the people affected by the conflict mainly through activities in neighbouring countries. The BMZ is coordinating this assistance closely with the Federal Foreign Office. Germany's Federal Foreign Office is responsible for humanitarian aid; the BMZ is in charge of recovery and rehabilitation efforts. This coordination is intended to ensure that relief, rehabilitation and development efforts are linked.

The BMZ's recovery and rehabilitation work ("transitional development assistance") is designed to achieve medium-term to long-term impacts. It addresses, among other things, the integration of refugees and internally displaced persons in host regions; food security; the reconstruction of basic social and economic infrastructure; and disaster preparedness. The focus of the BMZ's crisis response is on Syria's neighbours Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey.

Since 2012, the German government has already provided about 1.34 billion euros in response to the crisis, and at the donor conference in London, it announced 1.2 billion euros for 2016. A total of 2.3 billion euros is to be made available in the period up to 2018. 

Examples of our activities in the region

The UNICEF initiative "No lost generation" wants to prevent the creation of a lost generation in Syria that only knows war and destruction by providing education offerings and psycho-social support.

Education for all children

Lebanon's education ministry has launched a country-wide programme to provide improved access to basic education for both Syrian refugee children and needy Lebanese children. One of the organisations involved in the implementation of the programme is UNICEF, as part of its No Lost Generation initiative. Germany is a significant contributor to this education programme.


Refugees in a camp for internally displaced people in the Kurdistan-Iraq region

Better living conditions

In Iraq, support from the German Development Ministry (BMZ) has helped to set up 18 refugee camps for up to 50,000 people each in the Province of Dohuk alone, and there are plans for further camps. On behalf of the BMZ, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) is working in the camps and is supporting local authorities in setting up infrastructure facilities.



A boy collecting water from a tank in the Jordanian refugee camp Zaatari

Improving the water supply

Since the civil war began, more than 633,000 Syrians have fled to Jordan. One major problem is the provision of drinking water for these refugees, as water is extremely scarce in Jordan. The German government has therefore significantly increased its funding for the Jordanian water sector since 2012.


The Al Quds school in Amman, Jordan

Toilet facilities for schools

More than half of the Syrian refugees in Jordan are school-age children. The existing school buildings cannot accommodate so many additional children, and many of them lack the sanitation facilities to cope. The BMZ is therefore providing funds for a programme specifically designed to improve the sanitation and hygiene situation in overcrowded schools.



Syrian children in front of their accommodation in the Lebanese town Baalbek

Civil Peace Service helps foster dialogue

The Forum Civil Peace Service (forumZFD), with support from the BMZ, has been setting up projects that will give Lebanese citizens and incoming Syrians the opportunity to get to know each other, thereby breaking down prejudices. Among other things, the projects sponsor the training of community mobilisers, whose task is to mediate in conflict situations. These community mobilisers speak to locals and refugees alike about their concerns and fears as well as their living and working conditions.


In the vocational training centre in Mafraq in Jordan, women train to become plumbers.

Training for plumbers

In Jordan, 40 per cent of all water is lost on its way to consumers. The pipe network is in urgent need of improvement. That is why the BMZ is supporting the training of men and women as "water-wise plumbers". The aim is to help reduce water loss in households and give both local people and refugees new employment opportunities.



Lebanon: Helping refugees build a future (video)

Game-of-Thrones-Star Tom Wlaschiha im Gespräch mit einer Bewohnerin eines Flüchtlingslagers im Libanon

In terms of refugees per capita of the population, Lebanon is hosting the largest number of refugees worldwide. Lebanon has a population of four million and is hosting more than one million refugees. Germany is one of the largest donors of funding for the organisations working on the ground to respond to the difficult situation.

German Game of Thrones star Tom Wlaschiha went to Lebanon for the BMZ to find out more about the living conditions of refugees there.

For a video report about his trip, click here (German with English subtitles).

Visit to the Middle East

Federal Minister Müller at the opening of an outpatient centre in Sumel in the province of Dohuk in northern Iraq

Giving people on the ground a better future

At the end of January, German Development Minister Gerd Müller visited the Middle East to see for himself what Germany is doing to support refugees and host communities.

His four-day trip first took him to Jordan, where he met with government officials to discuss ways of creating legal options for Syrian refugees to work in Jordan. An investment and infrastructure programme together with targeted measures to promote economic development are planned in order to help improve the situation in the country.

From Jordan, he travelled to Turkey, where he visited the port city of Mersin, which until recently was the main point of arrival of Syrian boat people.

Then he went to Iraq. In northern Iraq, German support has helped over the past few months to build winterised shelters for tens of thousands of refugees, health posts for half a million people and additional schools for 50,000 children. Gerd Müller visited two refugee camps near Dohuk and met with representatives of the Kurdish regional government. "The key to resolving the refugee crisis lies in the region itself," the Minister said. "We must show the refugees by our actions that, whilst they cannot all come to us, we will come to them with a powerful Marshall Plan and will help create for them the prospect of a better future."

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